On Sunday, I took the Metrolink to Orange County, riding my bicycle from Fullerton Station to the Bruery in nearby Placentia. There I found Patrick Rue — the Bruery’s founder, CEO and fellow Mater Dei High School alumnus — waiting for me in the Tasting Room with a smile and a spectacular array of seasonal suds.
Rue began brewing beer in his family’s garage just after entering law school. Within a month, he knew he’d found his calling — and it wasn’t law. But Rue bided his time, earning his Juris Doctorate before establishing the Bruery in 2008. As CEO, Rue’s first order of business was to hire Tyler King, formerly of BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, to become the Head Brewer.
“With my crazy ideas and Tyler’s common sense, we make great beers,” Rue said.
And they do make great beers. This season’s offerings include Rue and King’s Three French Hens — one of the finest Belgian-style Dark Strong Ales on the market — and the third installment in their annual Twelve Days of Christmas Series that began with Partridge in a Pear Tree in 2008 and will culminate with Twelve Drummers Drumming in 2019.
We also sipped on Gunga Galunga — a dark beer brewed with Thai ginger, kaffir lime leaves, and 100% wild yeast. With notes of leather, tobacco, lime zest, and lavender, this eccentric brew would make an excellent Thanksgiving digestif. (It’s also the reason I believe Rue to be the greatest Mater Dei alumnus to ever live. Sorry, Leinart.)
Though many automatically pair wine with their Turkey Day meal, these seasonal beers certainly shouldn’t be excluded from the mix. September and October’s glut of pumpkin-infused beers has pretty much passed, but there’s a cornucopia of other options for the eager imbiber.
For the main course, an Oktoberfest lager or a Strong Golden Ale (like Russian River Damnation) pairs well with turkey; a nutty brown ale or winter stout (like Dogfish Head Chicory Stout) matches up nicely with smoked turkey; and a bock, Dunkelweizen, black lager, or even the Bruery’s Three French Hens is a fine match for the smokiness of glazed ham.
Among great post-meal options are Anchor Steam’s Christmas Ale or the Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Ale, whose darker, spicier notes dovetail with those of pumpkin pie. Or if you’re really hankering for the seasonal squash, Dogfish Head’s 7% ABV Punkin Ale evokes the season — and dulls the pain associated with excessive exposure to one’s own kin.
Just remember that a beer doesn’t have to say “Thanksgiving” to pair well with your Turkey Day meal.